Sockburn Castle

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameSockburn Castle
Alternative Names
Historic CountryDurham
Modern AuthorityDarlington
1974 AuthorityCounty Durham
Civil ParishSockburn

Earthworks of a Medieval moated manor house and associated structures or possible deserted Medieval village and post-Medieval formal garden. No surviving remains of a castle are visible. Palatinate licence to crenellate granted to Sir Christopher Conyers in 1470.

Leland describes it thus: 'the eldest house of the Coniers with the demains about it of a mile cumpace of exceding pleasaunt ground, is almost made an isle, as Tese ryver windeth about it.' 'At a little distance below the maner-place,' he adds, 'is a grete were for fish. (VCH, 1914, Ref. Toulmin-Smith)

An inquisition taken in 1431, following the death of Robert Conyers, describes a manor house containing a hall and a chamber, as well as a granary, stable and dovecote. Also belonging to the manor were 'three orchards, three cottages, with their gardens' worth 30 shillings per annum; a watermill worth 100 shillings; the milne-halgh, 40 shillings; an enclosed wood called Thirstandale of 10 acres worth three shillings and sixpence, and 100 acres each of arable and meadow valued together at £4 13s 4d (Cursitors Records 1884: 180). (Went and Jecock, 2007)

Gatehouse Comments

Sockburn was granted to the Coyners soon after the Norman Conquest apparent for the service of killing a 'monstrous and poysonous vermine or wyverne, and aske or werme'. The Conyers were an important local baronial family with many military duties such as constable of Durham Castle. Another of their manors was Bishopton where they built a motte and bailey. This prime manor of theirs must have been fortified from an early date (but not necessarily with a motte). However, because this was the family caput the site seems to have been rebuilt many time and nothing now remains that is clearly a fortification. The 1470 licence probably represents one of these many rebuildings. As with all licences it should not be taken as an intent to build a major fortification but as as a special honorific for a fairly standard great house with some domestic defences and martial decorations. It is probably that some parts of even this C15 house were of timber and earlier halls on the site are even more likely to have been timber with only some few buildings or parts of buildings in stone. The earthworks to the south and west of All Saints church are complex and represent at least two Halls on different sites with the standing Sockburn Hall representing a third site.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNZ350070
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

No photos available. If you can provide pictures please contact Castlefacts

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles and Tower Houses of County Durham (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 56
  • Jackson, M.J., 1996, Castles of Durham and Cleveland (Carlisle)
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 160
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 139 (possible)
  • Hugill, Robert, 1979, The Castles and Towers of the County of Durham (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 92-93
  • Beresford, Maurice and Hurst, John G. (eds), 1971, Deserted medieval villages: studies (Lutterworth Press) p. 187
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1914, VCH Yorkshire: North Riding Vol. 1 p. 449 online transcription
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 297-300 online copy
  • Surtees, R., 1823, The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham Vol. 3 (Durham) p. 243-6 online transcription
  • Brayley, E. and Britton, J., 1803, Beauties of England and Wales; Durham Vol. 5 p. 94


  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 147
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1907, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 1 p. 69 online copy


  • English Heritage, 2008, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 52 view ADS page
  • Mason, David, 2008, 'Sockburn Hall A recent archaeological survey' Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland Newsletter No. 9 p. 1-3 online copy
  • Austin, D., 1972, Council for British Archaeology Group 3: Archaeological newsbulletin for Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland p. 10

Primary Sources

  • 1874 The Thirty-fifth Annual Report of Deputy Keeper of the Public Record App. 97 (membrane 3 of Calendar of Rolls of Bishop Booth)


  • < >Went, D. and Jecock, M., 2007, Sockburn Hall, Darlington: An archaeological investigation of the medieval and post-medieval manors and the setting of the pre-Conquest church (82-2007. English Heritage Research Department: Portsmouth) < > online copy